George Zimmerman not guilty?
Harvard Law Professor Alan Dershowitz says he would find George Zimmerman not guilty if he was serving on the Seminole County jury currently hearing the high-profile criminal case.
In an interview, Dershowitz, who was on O.J. Simpson’s legal team back in the mid-1990s, started out by blasting what he deemed the “corrupt, politically motivated” special prosecutor for overcharging Zimmerman with second-degree murder in the first place. That’s the big problem in the case, he insisted.
There is some possibility that the jury will come back with a compromise verdict (which is not allowed is some states) for the lesser offense of manslaughter but which in Florida also carries a long jail term, Dershowitz noted.
Zimmerman, a former neighborhood watch captain, is on trial for fatally shooting Trayvon Martin, 17, on February 26, 2012, after confronting the teenager as he walked back to the house where he was staying in a gated community outside of Orlando, Florida. Zimmerman entered a plea of not guilty on self-defense grounds.
Today the George Zimmerman defense rested, and the defendant himself officially told the judge on the record that as expected he was declining to take the witness stand. Jury deliberations could start as early as tomorrow or Friday once both sides finish their closing arguments.
As far as Zimmerman’s guilt or innocence, Dershowitz declared on Steve Malzberg’s Newsmax TV show that the prosecution has failed to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt as a matter of law: “I would say there’s reasonable doubt. I would say nobody knows who started the initial fight. Remember, it’s monumentally irrelevant who’s morally guilty here, whether or not Zimmerman was a racist and racially profiled, and shouldn’t have been doing it, and didn’t listen to police — that’s all irrelevant under Florida law.”
Continued Dershowitz: “The case begins when the first blow is struck essentially And we don’t know who struck the first blow. We don’t know if Trayvon Martin came out from behind of a dark area and jumped him and got him down. And as long as we don’t know that, [and] we don’t know whose voice it was who was yelling, ‘Help me! Help me!’ That’s reasonable doubt …”
The professor cautioned that real-world criminal jury trials are nothing like CSI: “If you think it’s 60 percent likely or 70 percent or even 80 percent likely that Zimmerman is guilty and doesn’t deserve self-defense, you have to acquit … It has to be much higher than that. It has to be certainly like 90 percent likely before you can say there’s no reasonable doubt. So … if I were on the jury, I think I would find reasonable doubt … ”
Dershowitz added that he is no member of the George Zimmerman fan club even after the jury renders its verdict: “I might not want to be friendly with George Zimmerman at the end of the case … I certainly would not declare him innocent. There’s a big difference between declaring him innocent and declaring him not guilty.”
Not proven would be a more accurate way to describe the potential outcome of a case of this kind. The not-proven terminology (which is more descriptive of many trial outcomes) is used by Scottish courts, he explained, to draw a more precise distinction with not guilty or an innocent finding.
Last summer during the Chick-Fil-A controversy, Dershowitz — a same sex marriage supporter — insisted that the big-city politicians who wanted to shut down store franchises because of the corporate policy on traditional marriage were engaging in “terrible intolerance” and that “state-sponsored discrimination based on pure ideology in expression of religious views …is unconstitutional.”
Do you think George Zimmerman will (or should) be found guilty of second-degree murder or a lesser offense such as manslaughter?